Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Demonstrators protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Photo: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr/cc)

Outrage as Texas Senate Passes 'Unconstitutional' Bill That Would Hit Pipeline Protestors With Up to 10 Years in Prison

"Big oil is hijacking our legislative system," said Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network

Jake Johnson

Sparking outcry from indigenous tribes and environmental groups, the Texas state Senate on Monday passed industry-backed Republican legislation that would hit pipeline protestors with a third-degree felony and up to ten years in prison.

"Here in Texas, members of the legislative body are looking to pass laws that harshly criminalize free speech and the right to protest," Juan Mancias, Tribal Elder with the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, said in a statement.

"We will continue to support and fight beside the indigenous communities in Texas to make sure these unconstitutional laws do not stand."
—Dallas Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network

As the Associated Press reported, the bill "would classify pipelines as critical infrastructure, putting them in the same category as power plants and water treatment facilities."

According to the AP, the "amended bill would still subject those who trespass and damage the facility to a third degree felony with up to 10 years in prison," a sentence on par with the punishment for attempted murder.

"But people impairing or interrupting operations would now face a misdemeanor with a fine up to $10,000 and potentially up to one year in jail," the AP reported.

As Common Dreams reported, the Texas House passed the legislation earlier this month.

Republican state Rep. Chris Paddie, the author of the bill, insisted that his legislation would not punish peaceful demonstrators, but indigenous leaders at the front of the fight against climate-destroying pipelines in Texas weren't buying it.

"We are at a tipping point as our ecosystems decline at accelerated rates and instead of protecting our environment, we are protecting big oil and pipelines," Jennifer K. Falcon, campaign manager with Society of Native Nations, said in a statement. "Across the country, we have seen these bill challenged for stripping us of our constitutional rights."

Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network vowed to fight the Texas bill and other similar Republican legislation across the country.

"Big oil is hijacking our legislative system," Goldtooth said. "Our Network is suing the state of South Dakota for passing a bill similar to the one being debated in Texas. Both are unconstitutional attempts to suppress public protest and are nothing but fear tactics. We will continue to support and fight beside the indigenous communities in Texas to make sure these unconstitutional laws do not stand."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'We Will Be on the Streets': Lula Vows Resolve as Brazil Heads Toward Runoff

"We don't have a break. We are going to work hard," said the leftist former president. "And we have 28 more days."

Jake Johnson ·


Brazil Votes Live: Lula Wins the First Round Over Far-Right Bolsonaro; Runoff Oct. 30

Lula took the lead as more rural votes counted but failed to reach 50%

Common Dreams staff ·


'Enough is Enough': Hundreds of Thousands March Across the UK

'As wages fall while profits soar, our message is clear... We are here to win.'

Common Dreams staff ·


California Gov. Newsom Proposes Windfall Profits Tax on Big Oil

Calls for windfall profits taxes have increased globally in recent weeks

Common Dreams staff ·


'Incredible': Omar and Khanna Staffers Join Levin's Office in Unionizing

"It is long past time the United States Congress became a unionized workplace, and that includes my own staff," said Rep. Ilhan Omar. "I am proud of all the people on my team who have played a leading role in the staff unionization effort. Solidarity forever."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo